Should you get a Summer Job or an Unpaid Internship?

Nancy Anderson
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Well, summer time is fast approaching, and if you have not secured plans for the summer yet, now is definitely the time to think about making some concrete plans. For instance, you can choose to do an unpaid internship in your career field or you can obtain any type of summer job so that you can obtain money to fund your education. Which route should you pursue though? Deciding whether or not to pursue an internship or a more traditional student summer job can be a difficult choice to make. As such, let us examine both the pros and cons of both of these career choices:

Pros and Cons of Internships

If you decide to undertake an internship, there is a possibility that it will pay you quite little – if anything at all. Thus, it is important that you have an alternative source of funding to pay for your room and board during this time period. Additionally, if you need money for schooling, you will need additional funds as you will not be able to save money for your college tuition.

However, there are definite pros to working at a low paying or unpaid internship as well. For instance, you will gain relevant job experience that will no doubt make you a more attractive job candidate when you apply for a “real” job in the future. In addition, you will gain valuable contacts that you can use as references – and there is a possibility that your internship may evolve into a full-time position when you graduate. Further, an internship lets you work in a career-related position – and in turn, you can determine if this field of work is something that you want to pursue when you graduate.

Pros and Cons of Summer Jobs

On the other hand, if you decide to work at a more traditional student job, there are pros and cons to this situation as well. For instance, at a regular paid student job, you may not be working in a career related position and in turn, you will not gain relevant career-related experience and make the associated contacts. In fact, depending on the job that you will be working at, there is a possibility that you may be performing monotonous and unchallenging work.

That said, there are definite pros to working at a more traditional student job in the summer. For instance, you can make quite a bit more money at these types of jobs. In fact, for many students, this factor alone is enough of a reason to obtain this type of job. However, other benefits of these student summer jobs can include gaining transferable skills that you can use in any type of future job – and the new friendships that you will make while working. Further, you may also discover that you wish to pursue an entirely new career direction – based on your summer job experience.

All in all then, deciding whether to pursue an internship or a more traditional summer job depends on your individuals needs, wants, and preferences. What will you be doing this summer?

Larisa Redins is a full time writer and editor with degrees in both Arts and Biological Science. She writes about career issues for and other topics for a variety of international websites and magazines. Please visit her other blogs at and view job posting at


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